The last time Chicago Mayor Richard Daley chose a police superintendent, the city was battling violent crime totals that for several years made the city the nation’s murder capital. In four years in the post, says the Chicago Tribune, Superintendent Philip Cline oversaw a drop in murders to some of the lowest levels in 40 years. Yet Cline’s legacy has been marred with international coverage of videotaped beatings of civilians by off-duty officers and complaints that police have not done enough to root out corruption. Those criticisms contributed to changes in the city agency that investigates police misconduct and contributed to Cline’s early retirement this summer.
Among the next top cop’s first challenges will be restoring faith in the Police Department, both inside and out, insiders and community leaders say. Two of the three finalists for superintendent, Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Charles Williams and Thomas Belfiore, commissioner of New York’s Westchester County Department of Public Safety, have long experience in rooting out corruption within the ranks. The third, Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Hiram Grau, brings a criminal investigative background that could also prove valuable in continuing Cline’s success in lowering the homicide rate in the city.